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Tips for Road Trips with Sensory Kids

Tips for Road Trips with Sensory Kids

Road trip vacations create some of the best family memories. Not only does seeing new sights along the way to your destination increase your chances for bonding but traveling by car also gives you an opportunity to help your child adjust to new situations. However, you do want to keep your child’s sensory needs in mind since many aspects of taking a road trip may interfere with their comfort. As you get ready to hit the road, you can use these tips to make sure your child has what they need to enjoy the experience.


Pack a Sensory Tool Kit

Long hours spent in the car can exacerbate your child’s negative reactions to sensory input because they have fewer distractions. To combat this, it is best to bring along items that your child can use to cope if they begin feeling irritated by sights, noises, or tactile sensations along the route. Grab a backpack and fill it with the things your child already likes to use to feel comfortable such as sunglasses, noise-canceling headphones and fidgets. Then, make sure that it is easily accessible to you and your child once you are all in the car.


Bring Their Favorite Snacks and Toiletries

While you may be looking forward to eating out at new restaurants, your child with food aversions may struggle at every stop. If your child cannot eat food with certain textures or flavors, then make sure to pack snacks and simple meal ingredients that you know they will eat. Keep in mind that you may also need to bring your child’s preferred toiletries if they can only use toothpaste with a specific taste or shampoo with a certain scent.


Take Sensory Breaks

It’s always good to plan a few stops along the way for everyone to stretch their legs. With a little planning, you can maximize the benefits of these stops by tailoring them to fit your child’s sensory needs. For instance, a child with sensory aversions may prefer to stop at a quiet rest area that is off of the main road for a relaxing lunch. Alternatively, a sensory seeking child may need a playground with lots of space for them to swing, climb and spin.


Establish Expectations

Children with sensory challenges tend to do best when they know what to expect. Talk to your child about things that may be different on the trip such as different textures in the hotel bedding or new noises they may hear at tourist sites. You may also want to practice having your child wear the clothing that you plan to pack for the trip, especially if it is unfamiliar. This way, you can make accommodations before you leave if your child refuses to wear their new hiking boots or swimsuit. 

Family vacations are the perfect time to create memories that your child will cherish for a lifetime. With these strategies in mind, you can make sure that your child’s sensory needs are met while exposing them to new experiences that foster their development.


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